Writers and Their Wardrobes, Pack Horse Library Initiative, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories:

From David Foster Wallace’s signature bandanna to Zadie Smith’s head wrap to Samuel Beckett’s Wallabee boots, the New York Times considers writers and their wardrobes, as depicted in Terry Newman’s new book, Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore, published this week by Harper Design.

Eliza McGraw tells the story of the packhorse librarians who carried books into the rocky, inaccessible regions of eastern Kentucky during the Great Depression. As part of a New Deal initiative, the librarians served fifty thousand families and 155 public schools. (Smithsonian)

Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has joined the growing group of writers and organizations who are boycotting the Swedish book fair this fall in protest of the presence of Nya Tider, a right-wing extremist newspaper. (Guardian)

“All poets, if they live as long as I have, tend to repeat themselves. Behind those images and subjects one returns to again and again, there are mysteries one cannot solve, mysteries of one’s identity and one’s fate. We have one life and that life continues to be a riddle…” Charles Simic talks with Literary Hub about his writing obsessions, ambitions, and habits.

Atlas Obscura considers the eighteenth-century book club and how the gatherings, much like many modern day book clubs, were opportunities for “food and alcohol in copious quantities, accompanied we may suspect by a considerable element of boisterous good humor.”

“Maybe I would have learned this reading anything, but I learned it reading cookbooks: Words can be used to make an idea more precise, or more vague, to make something clear or to blur its edges.” Critic Tejal Rao relates her experiences reading cookbooks as a child when her family moved to France. (New York Times)

Yale University’s Beinecke Library has acquired the lifetime writings of Robert Olen Butler. Butler, who currently teaches at Florida State University, is known for his writings about the Vietnam War and his Pulitzer Prize­–winning short story collection, A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain. (Florida State University News)

“The role of politics in my work: I write toward the ambiguous, elusive things in the corner of the room.” Poet and essayist Jennifer S. Cheng talks about politics and poetry, learning to let a book go once it is published, and writing in the dark. (Rumpus)